Passover will be here soon. In my last blog I wrote about “What are you focusing on as we come to Passover and the self-examination prior to it.” I hope you’ve read that. Today let’s kick it up a notch. I consider this blog one of the most important ones I’ve written.
I want to bring to the forefront a concept that seems to be lost on some. It seems at Passover – uh, among those who keep it – that there’s a strong focus and recounting on how it pictured Israel coming out of Egypt. I’ve done that too and will continue to with some changes that make all the difference! And indeed in the book of Exodus Israel is commanded to review what happened in Egypt at each year’s Passover season.
But where is our FOCUS in 2016? Where should it be today? On Egypt, the death of the firstborn, and coming out of Egypt? Or is there more, much more now that we have that they didn’t have back then? You won't hear this message in many circles today – sadly.
Let’s remember that all of what happened in the book of Exodus pointed to Someone and something! The Passover Lamb pictured Someone. The blood of the Passover lamb pictured Someone’s blood. So did the death of the firstborn. The lintel and doorpost of the Israelite homes also depicted something. And so did the Exodus and crossing the Red Sea.
We’re in the New Covenant now. When we conduct a Passover nowadays, should the thrust of our conversation and the bulk of the time we spend in our sermons and our sermonettes all be on the Old Testament story of coming out of Egypt – or is there something and Someone far grander now? Where should our TIME and our mental focus be spent today?
Here’s what I’m getting at…. Please click on “Continue reading” to get the whole story of where our thrust should be today and to be sure your focus is right.
During the Passover Yeshua (Jesus) conducted on the eve of his crucifixion, he said something very profound. But I think many read right over His deep words and don’t grasp its importance. Let’s change that now and focus on what HE commands us to focus on:
“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of ME."
Notice he doesn’t say anything like “do this in remembrance of being freed from slavery in Egypt.” No, we eat bread and drink of HIS CUP – in remembrance of HIM; in remembrance of the culmination of what everything being pointed to in Exodus 12! We are talking about the 24 hour period when GOD – who became flesh and blood – became the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world! He introduced something new to the world: the new covenant Passover is all about HIM and what the old covenant Passover POINTED to!
His talk during that Passover was about the new covenant in his blood and his body that was given for us. It wasn’t about plagues and other firstborn dying – but about the impending death of GOD’S firstborn! And so now when someone should ask “why do we keep Passover and eat unleavened bread” – we now point to the actual POINT of the whole evening and now we explain to our children and family that we keep Passover because on this day on a hill called Calvary, God sent the Word, who became flesh to die for us, and he was called “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
THAT’S our focus now.
When something or someone grander comes into view -- that is what we focus on now. Not on the shadows – but on the reality. Yeshua is the reality. Paul was taught this directly by the Son of God, who is also God therefore. Notice:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.”
We’re not proclaiming the death of all those Passover lambs anymore. Nor are we proclaiming the death of all the firstborn of man and beast on that dark night in Egypt about 1500 years earlier than Christ. Sure, we tell the story – and so we should – but let’s always, always without fail always give the most time and space to what it all pointed to: YESHUA!
Now we give a full-throated assent to the fact that all that blood spilled by all those lambs pointed to when GOD sent His only Son – who was and is and always will be God as God is God – to be my Savior, my Lord, my King, my Beloved, my older brother, my Redeemer, my Master, my wonderful Friend – and my Shepherd. But most of all He came as my Savior.
He came and on that day that reeked of human blood, He took away my reproach, my shame, my condemnation and all the wrath that my sins incurred and buried it all in his blood. He forgave me of ALL my sins – yes, even my unspeakable ones. He took it all. For ME. And for you. He came and died for ME. And for you. Make it personal, Make it real. Paul said that in Galatians 2:20 – “…who died for ME…”
Oh, ungodly men and women can bring up your forgiven past, but how dare they? For by what standard they use, will be the standard used against them (Matthew 7:1-2). That should be scary for a lot of people who have been so unforgiving and harsh. All of us need to remember the point of Passover: grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, taking away sin, covering transgressions that have been repented of. Paul asked, “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his OWN Master [Christ] he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to STAND, for GOD is able to make him stand” Romans 14:4. Who can separate you from the love of Christ? NO ONE and nothing can if we keep our eyes fastened on HIM. It’s all about Him. He’s the A to Z. He’s the whole story. He’s what Passover is all about.
“Do this in remembrance of ME”, He said. Don’t get so caught up in all the details of the Old Testament stories that you forget the glorious reality of our Best Friend who suffered so you and I wouldn’t have to. And again, focus on the fact that this Jesus (Yeshua) was and is GOD who did all this for you. Let the solemnity, the grandeur, the epic scope of all this night pictured just envelope you fully. Savor it. Soak yourself in it.
Some folks think of Yeshua (Jesus) as “the living Torah” and so they focus on the Torah, instead of the person of Yeshua directly. I think that misses something. Obviously Yeshua kept the Law perfectly and will keep it in you by His spirit. Truly if we love him we will keep his commandments and he said that also several times in his address on Passover night (John 14:15; 15:10). But focusing on the Torah is not the same as focusing on Yeshua.
John wrote in John 1:14-17, “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled (dwelt) among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, FULL OF GRACE and truth… v.16-17: And of his fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
Paul also made it so clear we couldn’t possibly miss it in Philippians 3:8-11 that he did NOT want the righteousness that comes by the law (Torah) v.9. He wanted something better. He wanted the righteousness that comes by faith in and through the Messiah. He said that was God’s own righteousness, not our own righteousness. God’s righteousness is received by faith as God’s gift to us. That’s why it’s called “the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7; Galatians 2:16, 20-21; 2 Peter 1:1; Acts 15:9; Ephesians 2:6-10). Compare what Israel was doing in Romans 9:30-33 through Romans 10:1-4 and see if that is what you might be doing.
Today our focus is on HIM. Paul said when he focused on Torah, sin seemed to magnify in his life. The Torah certainly reveals God’s mind about sin, for sin is the transgression of the law. And certainly with Christ in us, we will be obedient. But our focus in the New Covenant is on our Leader now.
In the Old Covenant, it was “Blessings and Cursings” (Deuteronomy 28) and very works based. But the old covenant never offered true salvation from sin for eternity. God would save them from their enemies, but the Savior who would save us from sin had yet to be manifested. Neither could the old covenant take away sin. It could, at best, only cover our sins for one more year – until the next day of Covering(s) Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
It’s in the New Covenant where we learn we must be reborn completely new, fully acceptable to God – but only in Christ. And that starts with the new covenant Passover where we do it “in remembrance of ME” – of Christ! Read Romans 5:12-19 carefully. Add 1 Cor. 1:29-31 for good measure. True holiness and righteousness comes only in and through Christ.
So in the new covenant, our sins are taken away by the blood of the Lamb of God (John 1:29). We are forgiven of ALL our sins in the blood of the Lamb. And, if we accept it, we are offered eternal life, salvation, redemption – and we’re brand new, clean, and righteous in the righteousness that is by faith. Salvation is by faith in Christ – not faith in your good works, “…for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died in vain” (Galatians 2:21). We’ll be rewarded by our works, true. But we’re SAVED by grace – not by our works, lest we boast about it (Eph 2:8-10), but we are created FOR good works as verse 10 says. But let’s get the sequence right in the new covenant. It’s by faith in Yeshua who then lives righteously in us by His spirit as we are being transformed into HIS image, as we focus on him.
The new birth is a work of God, not a work of man. It starts with the new covenant Passover.
SO do you see why we MUST focus on Yeshua (Jesus) at Passover? It’s the point of the story, brighter focus, and goes WAY BEYOND the story of the Exodus now. We’re crossing over something much bigger than the Red Sea. We’re now crossing over from death to life. From condemnation to the praises of God. Hallelu YAH! Praise you, our Passover Yeshua!
Paul talked about “Christ our Passover” – 1 Corinthians 5:7. HE is what it’s all about. Christ our Passover. He freed us from sin and slavery to sin. He walked us out of sin – like the Israelites coming out of Egypt – but now we’ve been freed from slavery to sin! We have died to sin! (More on that later)
And so this year, more than ever, remember – “Do this in remembrance of ME.” YES recount what happened on Passover. But this year, our time and focus will be spent recounting Passover day on that place called Golgotha, the place of the Skull. THAT’S the big story we’ll be recounting more than any other. Everything else just pointed to the big story!
And then worship Him like you finally are starting to get it: It’s ALL about Him. He’s the good news. He brings grace upon grace, like wave after wave that unlocks the here-to-fore locked gates to eternal life and the kingdom of God. Let the size, the power and awesomeness of this night fill your heart and mind when you come to Passover.
And yes, bow down and worship him. Love him. Seek Him. And bless God the Father for sending such Majesty to purchase you from the clutches of Death- and offer you eternal life and salvation in Christ.
“DO this in remembrance of ME”. Yes Master, we will obey you. This Passover will be in remembrance of YOU. And Heavenly Father, thank YOU so much for such a wonderful Gift – the gift of your Son. Thank you.